Does Emu Oil “support your passion for wellness to change the world”?
Jan Whalen and Bluie the Emu in Everett, Washington
“As amazing as it may sound, many people wonder whether an emu must be killed to get emu oil.” — UPC Supporter
Emu oil is obtained by slaughtering an emu. There is no other way to get this oil which is touted by emu exploiters as a virtual cure-all for whatever ails you (except as a balm for the sin-sick soul which wearing this oil can only make sicker). Put a glow on your face by smearing slaughtered emu oil on your nose, lips, and cheeks. Soothe and smooth your body with it. Just make sure before purchasing those dainty bottles and tubes of this wondrous “wellness” ointment that it is “sustainably, ethically sourced.”
“Sustainably, ethically sourced,” means turning 95 percent of the dead bird into marketable products: “The emu’s skin can be used to make leather for clothing and accessories; the meat, which is lean but high in omega-3 fatty acids, is a popular protein; there are potential uses for emu feathers; and the bird’s giant black eggs are carved and painted to create unique pieces of art.”
On March 29, 2021, UPC posted the following letter to a wellness/mindfulness business at www.mindbodygreen.com that in 2019 featured an article boasting the health and beauty benefits of emu oil. We encourage you to contact email@example.com and politely urge refraining from promoting slaughtered animal parts as health and beauty aids. When you encounter promotions of emu oil or other slaughter products, please educate and advocate for the birds. If we want our own bodies to be respected, let’s practice respect (not “respect”) for theirs as well. Thank you.
I am writing to ask you to please not promote emu oil as a “health and beauty” benefit as per your article in Mind Body Green.
It is disturbing to click on this link and see a woman smearing a slaughterhouse product on her face. The suggestion, however well-meant, that emus may be brought into the world to be killed for their oil reserves, feathers and other body parts is incompatible with a spirit of true mindfulness and care for our fellow creatures, regardless of species. A truly mindful (informed) sensibility cannot possibly find comfort in making an animal die for “benefits” that are already available from plants. How can we value the life and feelings of an emu or any creature so little as to destroy them, short of self-defense?
Emus are gentle, family-oriented birds who evolved in Nature millions of years ago to roam over vast spaces of land. They are not meant for confined areas and being manhandled; and no matter what their exploiters say, slaughtering emus is a HORRIBLE, brutal process.
Mindfulness must surely respect the dignity of our fellow creatures, not their humiliation and degradation into “products.” We humans have enough commercial products already, way more than enough to benefit our personal well-being.
Please consider these concerns. I would be happy to hear from you if you care to respond.
Karen Davis, PhD, President United Poultry Concerns
Akey congressional panel launched an investigation this week into the wave of COVID-19 infections that killed hundreds of workers at meatpacking plants nationwide last year and highlighted longstanding hazards in the industry.
Since the start of the pandemic, the meat industry has struggled to contain the virus in its facilities, and plants in Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas have endured some of the biggest workplace outbreaks in the country.
The meat companies’ employees, many of them immigrants and refugees, slice pig bellies or cut up chicken carcasses in close quarters. Many of them don’t speak English and aren’t granted paid sick leave. To date, more than 50,000 meatpacking workers have been infected and at least 250 have died, according to a ProPublica tally.
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The congressional investigation, opened by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, will examine the role of JBS, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods, three of the nation’s largest meat companies, which, the subcommittee said, had “refused to take basic precautions to protect their workers” and had “shown a callous disregard for workers’ health.”
The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House.
In response to the subcommittee’s announcement, officials for JBS and Tyson said that the companies had spent hundreds of millions of dollars to implement coronavirus protections and to temporarily increase pay and benefits, and they looked forward to discussing their pandemic safety efforts with the panel. Smithfield said in a statement that it had also taken “extraordinary measures” to protect employees from the virus, spending more than $700 million on workplace modifications, testing and equipment.
The House subcommittee noted that reports from a variety of news organizations had illuminated problems with how the meatpacking companies handled the pandemic, and with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s enforcement efforts. The subcommittee cited ProPublica’s reporting on how meat companies blindsided local public health departments, and on Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ efforts to intervene when local health officials tried to temporarily shutter a JBS plant amid an outbreak.
The subcommittee’s inquiry will also scrutinize the federal government’s shortcomings in protecting meatpacking workers. “Public reports indicate that under the Trump Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) failed to adequately carry out its responsibility for enforcing worker safety laws at meatpacking plants across the country, resulting in preventable infections and deaths,” according to the subcommittee’s letter to OSHA.
The subcommittee also said that the agency had issued only a “few meager fines” and “failed to show urgency in addressing safety hazards at the meatpacking facilities it inspected.” The letter noted that OSHA had received complaints about JBS and Smithfield plants months before the agency conducted inspections.
David Seligman, a lawyer who helped meatpacking workers in Pennsylvania file a lawsuit against OSHA during the pandemic, said he hopes the subcommittee’s efforts are “just one of the initial steps” to holding companies accountable and ensuring workers are safe. “The harm inflicted on meat-processing workers during this pandemic, in service of the profits of corporate meat-packing companies and under a government that seemed happy to turn a blind eye, is a grave scandal,” Seligman wrote in an email.
In a statement, a Department of Labor spokesperson said that the subcommittee’s inquiry is “focused on the Trump administration’s actions surrounding the protection of workers from COVID-19 related risks,” and the agency is committed to protecting workers, and that new guidance on coronavirus enforcement that was issued in late January will serve as a “first step.”
In its Feb. 1 letters to OSHA, JBS, Tyson and Smithfield, the subcommittee has requested documents related to government inspections at meatpacking plants and COVID-19 complaints lodged with the companies. OSHA was asked to brief the subcommittee by Feb. 15.
[The poor cows were probably about to be slaughtered anyway. And no mention of the elk, who surely died. But since the cows “belonged” to some human, they were the focus of the anthropocentric article.]
GEORGETOWN, Idaho (CBS2) — More than two dozen cows were killed in an early morning crash in eastern Idaho.
Idaho State Police says a 29-year-old Parma man was driving east on Highway 30 Friday when his semi hauling 90 cattle hit an elk on the road and he ended up losing control. The semi rolled off the left shoulder.
ISP says 31 cows died at the scene. The driver was wearing a seatbelt.
Increased line speeds benefit no one but chicken producers looking to fatten their profits. Even at existing speeds, conditions inside a slaughterhouse are already immensely dangerous and inhumane. Photo by Kharkhan_Oleg/iStock.com
The Biden administration has withdrawn a deplorable pending rule that would have allowed qualifying chicken slaughter plants in the United States to permanently dial up line speeds from an already inhumane and lightning-fast 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, under the Trump administration, approved waivers for slaughterhouses to operate at faster speeds. Dozens of chicken slaughterhouses received such waivers, including 16 that received waivers in the spring of 2020. It was a terrible decision given that slaughterhouses had been declared coronavirus hotspots. To add insult to injury, the Trump administration soon after began working on a new rule that would allow qualifying chicken plants to operate at the higher speed, without even applying for a waiver. In essence, chicken producers looking to make more profit could simply ratchet up the line speed to kill more chickens with no consideration for animal welfare or worker safety.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund had been working with key leaders in the House and Senate to advance a shift on this issue, directing the USDA to review its policy in the recently enacted omnibus appropriations package and critical lobbying to urge candidate Biden to speak out about line speeds on the campaign trail. Withdrawing this rule was one of our top priorities for the Biden administration. Next, we will continue to focus on ending the waiver for the dozens of slaughterhouses that are already operating at the higher speeds. We and our allies are already suing the USDA to stop this waiver program and revoke the waivers, and we are urging the USDA, under new leadership, to promptly do so.
Increased line speeds benefit no one but chicken producers looking to fatten their profits. Even at existing speeds, conditions inside a slaughterhouse are already immensely dangerous and inhumane. Workers, struggling to keep up with rapidly moving slaughter lines, grab the chickens and slam them into shackles, injuring the animals’ fragile legs while they’re still conscious. Some birds miss the throat-cutting blade and enter the scalder—a tank of extremely hot water—alive and fully conscious. Human injury rates are also high as workers struggle to keep up with fast-moving lines. Imagine the additional risks to animal welfare and worker safety from increasing line speeds even more.
Faster speeds also further increase the risk of pandemic spread in slaughterhouses, where more than 48,000 workers have already been infected with the coronavirus and at least 245 have died. In fact, other federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, had asked that line speeds be slowed down during the pandemic.
We are excited about today’s outcome—it is the right decision for worker safety, animal welfare, food safety and the mitigation of pandemic risk. But there is a great deal more we hope to accomplish in coming weeks and months. President Biden has a strong record on animal protection, and we will be working with his administration to withdraw harmful regulatory actions against animals taken under Trump, including the removal of slaughter speed limits at pig slaughterhouses. We will also work to undo a number of harmful rules finalized by the last administration, including reinstating protections for gray wolves, reversing harmful changes to the Endangered Species Act, and stopping harmful hunting practices on Alaska’s federal lands. It’s a new day, and we are excited to make this one of the best years ever for animal protection policy gains at the federal level.
When I ate meat, if someone were to have asked me if I loved animals, I would have said an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ After all, I adored playing with dogs and cats I would come across, enjoyed feeding squirrels and birds with my grandmother and liked watching wildlife documentaries with my father.
However, eating animals requires someone ripping them from their families and butchering them—this is something everyone knows, even if they do not know the details of how it is done, and I knew that much too. Yet, I ate meat anyway. What allowed me to do so? What might allow others to do the same?
Scientists have been studying this conflict, between caring for animals and killing them to eat them. This phenomenon has been labelled ‘the meat paradox’ by University of Kent and Université Libre de Bruxelles researchers Steve Loughnan, Boyka Bratanova, and Elisa Puvia.
And we generally do care for animals. That’s why countries have laws protecting animals, why societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCAs) and other animal protection groups exist, why there was such national outrage when tigress Avni was killed, why the global horror when Cecil the lion and later his son Xanda were killed by trophy hunters in Zimbabwe, and it is likely why you are reading this book. In fact, many of us find what has to happen to animals to produce meat wrong, at least in principle, what little we may know about it, even if we eat meat.
A prank that was set up at a supermarket in Brazil, in which a man pretending to be a butcher offered samples of free fresh pork sausages to the store’s customers, proves this point. Shoppers would visit the counter, eat and admire the pork. Then, the butcher would offer to make more, but to do so he would bring out a live piglet and put the animal in a machine that appeared to instantly grind her up and turn her into fresh meat. In reality, another prankster was sitting in the machine safely collecting each baby pig. Although customers had just readily eaten pork, they were aghast when they thought a live pig was about to be killed. One woman spat out pork from her mouth, others pleaded with the butcher not to kill the young pig and even tried to physically stop him from doing so. None of them picked up another piece of the free fresh pork that they had eagerly eaten before seeing the live pig. If you were one of the customers, what would you have done?
Ranking Species on Worthiness of Moral Concern
While many of us are perturbed by the thought of slaughter of any animal, several studies found people who choose to eat animals are inclined to reject the thought that animals are capable of complex emotions and are likely to draw a further line between the emotional capacities of animals usually used for food (such as chickens) versus those who are not typically eaten by humans (like parrots). Both are birds, but the findings of these scientists indicate that people who eat meat are prone to believe parrots can feel more deeply than chickens, even though there’s no scientific support for such a view. Refusing to acknowledge animals, especially animals used for food, have the ability to experience deep emotions, appears to let many of us dismiss what happens to them in the production of food.
Through studies conducted by Loughnan and his colleague Brock Bastian of the University of Queensland, the pair describes how vegetarians tend to compare with meat eaters in thinking about the mental faculties of animals when told they will be killed. Vegetarians did not alter their view of that animal’s acumen when told an animal, such as a lamb, was set for slaughter. When meat eaters were told the same thing, it was found that they generally reduced their view of the animal’s mental abilities. This, the researchers surmise, may be a ‘defensive way’ to allow us to consume animals without much guilt or remorse.
Another experiment shows merely categorizing an animal as ‘food’ effects how most people perceive the animal’s rights. In this study, researchers introduced a tree kangaroo to participants—an animal the participating individuals were not familiar with. They were given general information about tree kangaroos and then some were told that the animals were for eating while others were not. Those individuals who were told the species was food considerably regarded tree kangaroos as less deserving of concern than the other participants.
Labelling an animal ‘friend’ has an effect too, but an opposite one—doing so tends to increase our respect for the friend species. This labelling of animals as ‘friend’ versus ‘food’ and the psychological effect it has on how we then view them is surely what helped me, when I consider it in hindsight, to simultaneously love animals like dogs and cats and eat animals like cows, chickens and pigs.
If this is the effect one study had on people’s minds, imagine the result of being told repeatedly, like we usually are from a young age, that certain animals are for ‘food’ by authority figures, like our parents, or members of our community or people we want to be accepted by, like our friends. What if these individuals would have instead categorized those same animals as ‘friend’? Would we have thought differently?
Today there are many vegetarians and vegans in the United States, but in the ’80s and early ’90s, the repeated messaging to me as a youngster from most people was speciesist: Animals like cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and fish merely existed to be eaten and animals like dogs and cats are friends. In other words, particular species are worthier of respect than other animals just by way of being. Indeed, though I happily ate what I considered to be the ‘food’ members of the animal kingdom, I would have eaten my own foot before I ate a dog. If we are raised in a meat-eating family, or if our families engage in rituals or customs that involve killing or eating certain animals, something similar is usually the repeated messaging we hear too.
This excerpt from A Moment of Taste by Poorva Joshipura has been published with permission from HarperCollins India.
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I want to make sure DawnWatch subscribers know about the most recent episode of Frontline, on PBS, which looked at the plight of agricultural and slaughterhouse workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Upon learning that the episode included video of egregious animal abuse, in addition to the inherent animal abuse of slaughterhouses, I feared that animals would be what Carol Adams has termed the “absent referent” (a term well worth learning about) in the show, with their suffering being an unacknowledged backdrop. Instead, Frontline shared the undercover video at the top of the slaughterhouse segment, letting viewers know that the Central Valley Meat Co, which has shown shocking indifference to the plight of its workers, has a famously bad history with animals as well. PBS does not mention that the video being shared comes from a Compassion Over Killing undercover investigation from 2012, but some of you might enjoy the DawnWatch alert from that time about the superb coverage the investigation achieved: https://dawnwatch.com/alert/20120822190107/ The Frontline episode can be watched on line at:https://www.pbs.org/video/covids-hidden-toll-lof6d5/ The animal cruelty segment is at the 22 minute mark, but I personally would highly recommend watching the full show. It is eye opening and thought provoking. It was not easy to find a link for feedback to the Frontline producers, while very easy to find information for sharing the episode online, which tells us that sharing is the positive feedback the producers prefer. They offer their social media address as @FrontlinePBS and hashtag as #FrontlinePBS . And so I highly recommend you check out and share the segment. I have it on the DawnWatch Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/DawnWatchInc/posts/662804937776490
Regan Russell, the Toronto Pig Save activist who was killed by a truck carrying pigs to slaughter. (Photo: Agnes Cseke)
On June 19, a protester was killed. Perhaps her death was obscured by the din of headlines that Friday—it was Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery.
Protests against systemic racism catalyzed by the death of George Floyd juxtaposed with a Trump rally scheduled on the anniversary and in the location of the worst incident of racial violence in the U.S. Tensions were high.
Her name was Regan Russell and while participating in a scheduled vigil outside of Fearmans slaughterhouse in Burlington, she was run down by a transport truck carrying pigs on their way to slaughter.
In the news covering this event, and in conversations I’ve had with friends and family, it seems the significance of a protester being run down by the very thing she was protesting has been missed. It seems many wonder what she was doing there.
A local news story gives the following account from someone who witnessed the event from a distance: “Then I saw a woman … I assumed the truck driver thought he was clear to go and didn’t see that last protester.”
Ironically, being seen is an important goal of the vigils held by animal rights groups at slaughterhouses—one way to create more visibility in an industry that would prefer to keep its practices hidden. And Regan was unignorable.
But she was also there that day to protest Bill 156—a new ag-gag law that had been passed two days earlier. Criticized as unconstitutional, Bill 156 is handcrafted to stifle damning evidence of the cruelty that is endemic to animal agriculture, with provisions that are distinctly anti-whistle-blower and anti-free-speech.
Like its counterpart, Bill 27 in Alberta, Bill 156 represents the influence of a powerful farming lobby desperately trying to limit exposure of something that can harm their bottom line — visibility into how the animal agriculture industry works. These sections don’t serve to protect the animals or reinforce biosecurity; they serve the sole purpose of controlling information.
The day before she died, Regan wrote on social media: “Bill 156 has passed. Now anytime an animal is suffering on a farm in Ontario, no one, not even an employee, has the right to expose it. This decision is evil. Animal ag is evil. Cancel animal agriculture.”
I’m so sorry that you didn’t get a chance to meet Regan Russell yourself. You would have loved her. I only hope that, in clearing up some of the questions about vigils, I can do her justice.
Regan didn’t look like what I suppose you’d expect a vegan to look like. At 65, Regan still possessed the qualities that decades earlier had made her a model — that is to say, her outer beauty was undeniable. But on the inside — well, that was truly special. She was funny and fast-witted, kind and patient.
She vibrated on a high frequency, if you are familiar with the concept. She was cynical, in a wise way, yet optimistic enough to try to make a difference. For 40 years, she had tried to make a difference. A week prior to her death, she had marched at a Black Lives Matter rally.
You see, Regan’s viewpoint, known as intersectionality, is the theory that all forms of oppression, discrimination, domination etc., intersect and influence each other. One of the signs she frequently brought to vigils read: “If you were in this truck, we’d be here for you too.” And you know what? She would have.
Personally speaking, up until two years ago, I wouldn’t have considered being an activist myself, despite being vegan for several years. It was my then 10-year old son — frustrated because he had been forbidden to talk about animal agriculture at school, who begged me and his dad, also vegan, to take him to a vigil. It became our church. Every Sunday morning we went to bear witness at Fearmans — sometimes with just a handful of people, sometimes in a group of 20 or more. Regan was almost always there too.
This leads me to an important point about Regan’s experience — as an activist, and specifically attending vigils at Fearmans, which she had done for years. This translates to hundreds of vigils, stopping thousands of transport trucks, bearing witness to the final moments of hundreds of thousands of pigs.
Regan understood the risks — after all, rogue aggressive drivers had been encountered in the past. In fact, this issue was the impetus for a petition created by Toronto Pig Save on change.org urging Michael Latifi, the CEO of Fearmans/Sofina Foods Inc., to create a safety agreement allowing activists to safely protest. Although the request has been ignored to date, other efforts had been made by both Toronto Pig Save and another activist group, New Wave Activism, to liaise with police, work with security and establish rapport with drivers.
Safety protocol is reviewed regularly with the group. Every vigil is timed. Roles are assigned to protestors to improve safety. Regan had one of those roles that day — standing at the entrance, just on the other side of the pedestrian sidewalk, with her now iconic bright neon sign that read ALL ANIMALS NEED PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.
Although, thanks to the newly passed Bill 156, the ability to legally protect animals would soon be more difficult. It is a bill that exemplifies prioritization of commerce over our rights as Canadians and specifically seeks to punish animal activists. This reality was certainly top-of-mind for Regan and the other activists there that day — as much as it was likely on the radar of those who profit from animal agriculture.
As you can imagine, losing Regan has been a devastating loss to the activism community, to Toronto Pig Save and New Wave Activism and to the many individuals who Regan touched with her beauty, wisdom and compassion. Personally, there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t cried a tear or two hundred — for the loss of a friend, and the loss of innocence, as I see for the first time just how unforgiving the machine we stand against can be.
And in the wake of Regan’s death, we are emboldened to articulate our demands in her name:
Justice for Regan Russell; the creation of a universal safety protocol for all future vigils; the repeal of Bill 156; greater visibility into farms where animals are kept and slaughterhouses via 24/7 video; monitoring that can be accessed by the public; the conversion of Fearmans Pork into an exclusively plant-based facility focused on the manufacture of plant protein; and the defunding of animal agriculture.
On the captivity, Regan said: “They say we’re breaking the law by storming? How do you think women got the right (to vote)? How do you think slavery was abolished? People stood up and broke the laws! Because they’re stupid laws.”
Let’s stand up to this stupid law.
Fiona Roossien wrote this article on behalf of Toronto Pig Save.
Testing has found positive cases at North Carolina facilities, but officials refuse to release the information
Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in Marshville, North Carolina. Photograph: Francisco Kjolseth/APAnimals farmed is supported byAbout this contentLewis Kendall in Durham, North CarolinaPublished onWed 1 Jul 2020 05.00 EDT
Achicken processing facility in western North Carolina reportedly underwent widespread testing for Covid-19 in early June.
Workers at the plant were scared. Several employees had already tested positive and the company, Case Farms – which has been repeatedlycondemned for animal treatment and workers’ rights violations – was not providing proper protective equipment.
“We don’t have a lot of space at work. We are shoulder to shoulder,” said one worker, who declined to be identified, during a recent union call. “I’m afraid to go to work, but I have to go.”
The testing turned up 150 positive cases at the facility, the worker said.
On 8 June, the health department for Burke county, where the Case Farms facility is located, reported 136 new Covid cases, a 25% increase in its total caseload. Yet neither the company, county officials nor the North Carolina department of health and human services would confirm whether those cases were connected to Case Farms.
It is just one example of the currently taut relationship between public health and the economy in North Carolina, as the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations rises.
North Carolina is one of the largest pork and poultry producing states in the US, exporting roughly $1.25bn in hogs, chickens and turkeys every year. Health departments in rural parts of the state, areas that often lean on large meatpacking or food processing facilities as primary sources of employment, have so far been tight-lipped about Covid-19 outbreaks in those plants.
In late April, while outbreaks began emerging at meat processing plants across the country, Donald Trump signed an executive order forcing the facilities to remain open. That same month, the US exported a record amount of pork to China, despite industry claims of a domestic shortage.
Workers wear protective masks and stand between a plastic dividers at a Tyson Foods poultry plant in Georgia. Photograph: AP
Since the pandemic began, more than 36,000 meat processing and farm workers have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 116 have died, according to a tally by the Food and Environment Reporting Network, though the true number is likely higher.
Through case interviews and contact tracing, the Burke county health department, where Case Farms is located, does have data about where people with positive cases work, but are choosing not to release it, said spokeswoman Lisa Moore.
“We know where they are, but we are not a county that can divulge every place where they are,” Moore said.
Case Farms requested the health department direct all questions regarding their facility to a company representative, Moore added.
In response to a series of detailed questions from the Guardian, a Case Farms spokesperson wrote that the company is “committed to continue producing food for our nation’s food supply, while taking additional safety measures to protect our employees, our company and our customers, in accordance with USDA regulations and CDC guidelines.”
Earlier this year, North Carolina’s health department had reported the names of farms with two or more positive cases, but in May replaced the names with addresses in order to “better reflect the location of the outbreak”, according to a department spokesperson.
“Why, when a nursing home has an outbreak, it’s in the paper, but when a meatpacking facility does, it’s not?” said Mac Legerton, a longtime grassroots policy advocate and co-director of the Robeson County Cooperative for Sustainable Development, and is among those who have criticized local and state governments’ approach to case reporting.
“The law needs to be that in a pandemic all outbreaks at public and private facilities are made public to protect the employees of the institutions and to inform the public.”
As of Thursday, there were 2,772 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 28 meat processing plant “clusters” around the state, the department said, but would not specify further.
North Carolina as a whole has seen a marked increase in cases and hospitalizations over the past several weeks, prompting a “concerned” Governor Roy Cooper to announce last week that the state would pause in the second phase of its reopening plan.
Demonstrators protest working conditions at a Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing facility in Minnesota. Photograph: Jeff Wheeler/APAdvertisementhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
The state requires only a few types of businesses to report outbreaks, which it defines as two or more cases, including congregate living facilities, daycare centers and schools. For all other businesses, local health departments and the state DHHS depend on companies volunteering their own data or tracking down clusters through case interviews.
But failure to disclose outbreaks demonstrates that officials and company executives are prioritizing economic interests over the wellbeing of marginalized workers and communities, Legerton said.
“That lack of information puts both employees and the public at risk,” he said.
In a letter to several of the largest meat companies last week, senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker called on the corporations to disclose infection figures in their plants.
Virginia also recently moved to create a set of safety rules to protect workers from Covid-19 – the first of its kind in the nation – following a petition from workers in the state’s poultry processing and meatpacking industries. The drafted rules, which include requiring employers to mandate social distancing and notify employees of potential exposure, would be enforceable through fines and closures.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has received nearly 350 Covid-related complaints from employees at North Carolina businesses. One business, Pilgrim’s Pride, a poultry processing plant in Sanford, was the subject of at least eight separate complaints, with workers alleging the company was not informing them of positive tests or mandating the wearing of some protective equipment. A worker there died in May.
In Robeson county – home to a large Campbell’s Soup facility, Mountaire Farms and Sanderson Farms poultry processing plants, as well as many factory farms – businesses have been generally forthcoming with the health department, according to Bill Smith, the county’s health department director.
Smith’s office received $600,000 in federal Covid funding, which it used to set up testing sites around the county and hire school nurses as contact tracers. Smith and his team have also been collaborating on daily calls with health departments from surrounding counties, as well as coordinating closely with the local Lumbee Tribe.
But companies can make this work difficult, muddying the waters for case reporting in communities where they are one of very few employers, Smith said.
“A lot of the packing places are your largest employers, therefore it’s an economic issue,” he said. “There may be pressures from them to stay out of the packing world, if you will.”
Companies also choose to weigh public health considerations alongside public relations in determining what information to release, Smith said, pointing to publicly traded giants like Sanderson Farms and Smithfield Foods, which have “a brand they’re trying to protect”.
“If you say something about Smithfield Foods, they’ll see an effect immediately: you’ll see someone not buy Smithfield in the grocery,” he said.
Still, the decision by state and county health departments to report some outbreaks and not others appears inconsistent with the need for transparency in a public health crisis, Smith noted.
“When you’re releasing nursing home names with two illnesses, yet another place that has 900 you refuse to give, there’s some disagreement there from a public health perspective,” he said.
Joaquin Phoenix honored Regan Russell, an animal rights activist who was killed outside of a slaughterhouse in Toronto, CanadaBy Alexia Fernandez June 26, 2020 10:02 PMhttps://7df0782deefdfbba75c64735113f71eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlhttps://7df0782deefdfbba75c64735113f71eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlADVERTISEMENTFBTweetMore
Joaquin Phoenix and Michelle Cho; (inset) Regan Russell BOBBY SUD
Joaquin Phoenix paid tribute to an animal rights activist after she died giving pigs water outside of a Canadian slaughterhouse.
The Oscar-winning actor, 45, joined more than 100 animal rights activists for a vigil to commemorate Regan Russell outside of the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, California, on Thursday night.
Phoenix, who has been an outspoken proponent for animal rights and veganism, stood outside of the slaughterhouse in a black hoodie reading “LA Animal Save,” a mask, and a sign that read, “#SavePigs4Regan.”
Standing beside him was his friend, Michelle Cho, with a sign that read, “Rest in power Regan.”
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Phoenix said, “Regan Russell spent the final moments of her life providing comfort to pigs who had never experienced the touch of a kind hand.”
“While her tragic death has brought upon deep sorrow in the Animal Save community, we will honor her memory by vigorously confronting the cruelties she fought so hard to prevent by marching with Black Lives, protecting Indigenous rights, fighting for LGBTQ equality, and living a compassionate vegan life,” he said.
Regan Russell died on June 19 GOFUNDME
“The Ontario government can attempt to silence us with the passage of its Ag-Gag bill -Bill 156 – but we will never go away and we will never back down,” he said. “My heart goes out to the Toronto Animal Save community and to Regan’s lifelong partner, Mark Powell.”
Part of Russell’s fight was to repeal a new bill passed in Ontario, Bill 156, that will soon make it illegal for anyone to be on private property such as farms where animals intended for slaughter are usually held.
Russell died on the morning of June 19 outside of the Fearman’s Pork Inc. when she was hit by a transport truck as she was attempting to give water to pigs headed to slaughter.
A spokesperson for the Halton Regional Police Service did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, although an investigation into her death is being conducted, a spokesperson told CBC.
Russell’s partner, Powell, told The Hamilton Spectator shortly after her death he didn’t know how she ended up underneath the transport truck, but that he was willing to continue her legacy of fighting for animal welfare.
Below is a timeline of vegan activists who died speaking out for the animals.
When possible I have posted pictures of the slain individuals so they can be more than just words on a page.
1976, January 6th: William Sweet, LACS member Anti-hunting activist, Murdered after an altercation with a man who was shooting birds. His murderer was jailed for life but was later released.
1985 October 7th: Fernando Pereira a Greenpeace photographer was murdered by the French Secret Service when the vessel “Rainbow Warrior” was sunk by two explosions in Auckland Harbor, New Zealand.
1988, December 22nd: Chico Mendes an anti-deforestation activist was murdered in his own home after an assassination order by a cattle rancher. He was the 19th Brazilian rainforest activist murdered that year.
1991, February 9th: Mike Hill an 18 year old hunt saboteur was deliberately run over and killed during a meet of the Cheshire Beagles. Death is deemed “accidental”. No charges are brought against the driver Allan Summersgill.
1993, April 3rd: 15-year-old hunt saboteur, Tom Warby, is deliberately run over and killed by a fox hunter as other huntsmen stand and laugh, proclaiming a “victory”. The driver, Alan Ball, is not prosecuted.
1995, February 1st: Jill Phipps was a 31-year-old British activist and mother, who was crushed to death under the wheels of a veal transporter truck carrying live animals for export at a protest at Coventry airport. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring any charges against the driver.
1995, March: Dr. Karel Van Noppen was a Belgium veterinarian who was assassinated in 1993 by hitmen after exposing mafia connections to the meat industry. Dr. Van Noppen was the victim of a powerful, international mafia who violently imposing its rule on the meat business, ruthlessly bullying anyone daring to stand in its way. In 1995, a few days before his murder, Van Noppen was explicitly threatened by people linked to the “hormone black mafia” underworld.
1998, September 17th: David “Gypsy” Chain was an American eco-activist who was crushed to death after an irate logger fell a tree on him in California’s redwood forest. On September 17, 1998, the 24-year-old environmental activist was crushed to death by a falling tree at the Headwaters Forest in Northern California.
Activists from Earth First! accused loggers of deliberately cutting down trees in their direction, part of escalating violence against activists condoned by the Pacific Lumber Company and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department.
Gypsy was part of an action to stop PL from destroying one of the last ancient redwood forests in the world.
The logging operation was illegal as a survey had yet to be done for the marbled murrelet, an endangered species of bird. PL attempted to portray the death as a “freak accident” and even tried to blame the victim as well as Earth First! According to PL spokesperson, Mary Bullwinkle:https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
“Despite all our precautions, a trespasser was apparently killed by a falling tree at one of our logging sites on our private property.”
On September 18, Earth First! released a videotape revealing that loggers not only knew that demonstrators were in the area, but were angrily threatening them shortly before Gypsy was killed.
A logger shown shouting profanities and threats was, according to Earth First!, the very same logger who felled the tree that struck David. The video also showed activists scrambling up a steep hillside to escape falling trees. According to a witness statement:
“Gypsy’s death is not an isolated incident of violence. In the last several months trees have been intentionally felled at nonviolent activists at the Luna tree sit and in the Mattole watershed in Humboldt County. This is part of an escalation of violence against nonviolent forest defenders in the Northwest and all over the world.”
On September 18, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department issued preliminary findings concluding that the death was “accidental”. According to an Earth First! activist speaking at a press conference, “Police have routinely refused to file charges against anybody who assaults a forest activist.” In 1999, Mr. Chain’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against PL. The company settled out of court in October of 2001, just three days before the trial was set to begin.
2003: Animal rights activist Jane Tipson is murdered in an alleged contract killing after protesting against the construction of a dolphin aquarium in St Lucia. To this day, her killers have not been found or prosecuted.
2005: 73-year-old anti-deforestation campaigner, Dorothy Stang, is approached in the Amazon by 2 armed men working on behalf of an animal agriculture organization. Asked if she has any weapons, she produces her Bible and says that’s all she has. She is shot in the stomach, then fatally shot 5 more times as she lays on the ground.
2006: Joan Root, a conservationist, and activist against poaching and illegal fishing is murdered by 4 gunmen in her own home. To this day, her killers have not been found or prosecuted.
2010, May 12th: Elvio Fichera a volunteer for the Association of Abandoned Animals was murdered while trying to serve a warrant with police on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot Elvio dead.
May 12, 2010: Paola Quartini, animal activist for LIPU (Italian League for Bird Protection – UK) from Genoa, Italy was murdered whilst trying, with police, to serve a warrant on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot him dead.
2011: Two anti-deforestation activists, Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo, are shot dead by hired thugs, after years of constant death threats from cattle ranchers. The main suspect is acquitted. No other prosecutions.
We remember our fellow fallen friends by continuing on with the activism they died for. Any single one of their deaths could easily have been ours and that’s one reason their deaths hit so hard.
Every time we go to a vigil, protest, shutdown, undercover investigation, or any form of protest we place our lives at risk so that we can help change the world.
Never forgetting those who have sacrificed everything for a more just and equal world is the least we can do but it’s even better if we remember on the days we are too tired, or sick to go to an event.
In the end we are all brothers and sisters in this together fighting for what’s right. We are all in this together.
Help Vegan News continue to get the news that matters to our community and help us move forward in these hard times.